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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, it is 6 o'clock across America, or at least in the eastern time zone. Families across America are getting ready to sit down for dinner at their kitchen tables in many homes in our country.

Moms are saying to their children, ``Eat your vegetables. Eat your dinner.''

But in some homes in America, there isn't adequate food on the table, and there isn't adequate nutrition for our children. It's hard to imagine that one in five kids in America may go to sleep hungry tonight with pains in their stomachs because they just didn't have enough food to eat.

In its wisdom, the United States of America established the WIC Program awhile back for women, infants and children to make sure our Nation was strong. It was to make sure we fed our children. Our country made a decision that feeding our children was a priority. It sounds so obvious. Families make decisions within their budgets that they are going to feed their children. They wouldn't think of saving money by not feeding their children. Yet, for some in low-income areas and for others now, as this is into the middle class, it is very hard to make ends meet.

So you wonder, in thinking of these people who are sitting down to dinner, how the Congress of the United States in trying to reduce the deficit, which we are all committed to do--that's important to our children as well--would decide to balance that budget on the little, tiny backs of our children, many of whom don't have enough to eat.

I want to commend Congresswoman DeLauro for her leadership as a member of the Ag Subcommittee of Appropriations and as the former chair of that subcommittee. She successfully passed an amendment in committee which had bipartisan support--it would have to have bipartisan support to pass--to restore $147 million to the WIC Program to feed the children. I congratulate her for that. It is part of the bill that was supposed to come to the floor. The Republican leadership has decided not to protect that bipartisanly passed amendment. What we are seeing is that the cutting of support for Women, Infants and Children is in the context of something bigger.

At the same time as we are making these cuts, we are giving tax subsidies to Big Oil. The price at the pump is also an imposition on the budgets of these families, and that is something that we can do something about by ending harmful speculation. To do that, we have to fund

the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is in this bill as well. The Republicans are saying they want to delay, delay, delay, and defeat the enforcement of laws which would end speculation, which would reduce the price at the pump, Goldman Sachs said, by at least 20 percent. At the same time, this same Republican majority has passed a bill, not once but twice, to abolish Medicare.

Food, price at the pump, Medicare, these are assaults on the middle class that are hard to withstand. In fact, they are hard to understand. It's hard to understand why we'd say to seniors, ``You're going to pay more for Medicare, and for fewer benefits as we abolish Medicare, while we give subsidies to Big Oil.'' We are going to say to seniors in nursing homes, ``You're going to go home and live with your families, who can probably ill-afford for you to do so, so we can give tax breaks to corporations to send jobs overseas.'' We are going to say to children whom we are not feeding that we are cutting education funding as well as making college more expensive for nearly 10 million students in our country and, for some, making it unaffordable to go to college while we give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our country.

So they are cutting support for Women, Infants and Children while handing a blank check to speculators. They are ending Medicare while they give subsidies to Big Oil. These choices do not reflect America's values and priorities. These are tough choices. They will not bring the growth we need to expand our economy and put people back to work as we create jobs. They will not make America strong. As moms across America are saying to children right now at 6 o'clock in the East, ``eat your vegetables; they will make you strong,'' we are acting on this floor to do just the opposite--to cut the funding for the initiative that will help feed the children of America.

It is unthinkable that a family would say, ``We can't afford to feed the children.'' It is unthinkable that a Nation committed to the future would say, ``We can't afford to feed the children.'' These families need our help. It's a large amount of money, $147 million, but very small compared to the subsidies to Big Oil and a small price to pay for the health and well-being of our children and for the strength of our country as we go into the future.

So I commend Congresswoman DeLauro for her tremendous leadership--for fighting for this, for not taking ``no'' for an answer in the committee. I would hope that we could prevail on the floor, but the Republican majority has left little option for that to happen.

I also want to commend Congressman Farr, now the ranking member on the Ag Subcommittee. Probably nobody in the Congress knows more about this. There may be some who are his equal--I don't know--but probably no one knows more about this issue in his representing an agricultural region as he does and also being committed to the health and well-being and to the good nutrition of our children so that they can be strong, so that they can learn in school and so that they can be a part of our great country in the best possible way for them.

So I thank you, Ranking Member Farr, for your leadership as well.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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